Italy edge out United States
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci helped Italy to edge out the United States and secure a place in the Fed Cup semi-finals on Sunday.
Errani and Vinci have won three of the last four grand slam titles, including the Australian Open last month, and were too strong for American duo Varvara Lepchenko and Liezel Huber in the fifth rubber.
Lepchenko beat the higher-ranked Errani and Vinci in singles play over the weekend to put the States in with a chance.
But her and veteran Huber were unable to produce another shock as Errani and Vinci combined to win 6-2 6-2.
Uzbekistan-born Lepchenko had earlier put the away side 2-1 up in the tie with a 7-5 6-2 defeat of Errani before Vinci levelled matters with a 6-2 4-6 6-1 win over Jamie Hampton.
The Italians will now play reigning champions Czech Republic at home in April's semis.
The Czechs completed a 4-0 rout of Australia although Petra Kvitova was pushed in her clash with Sam Stosur today in a match-up of former grand slam champions.
Stosur had a match point but Kvitova held firm to avert the danger and complete a 2-6 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 win.
"It was my first really good match this year," Kvitova told FedCup.com.
"When I lost the first set I didn't want to give up the match, I knew the next matches could be very tough, which is why I fought a lot, and the key was the tie-break in the second set."
"I don't think I did much wrong today," Stosur said.
"It was one that just slipped away. Petra played a very good match, in the second set I thought we were both playing very high quality and when it comes down to that, it was just a point here and a point there."
That result gave the Czechs an unassailable 3-0 lead and Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova then rounded off a fine weekend by beating Australian pair Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty 6-0 7-6 (7/1).
The other last-four tie will be between Russia and Slovakia.
Russia edged out Japan thanks to Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova's defeat of Ayumi Morita and Misaki Doi in a decisive doubles rubber.
Morita had earlier beaten Vesnina to put Japan 2-1 up only for Makarova to thrash 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-1 6-1.
And Makarova continued her good form alongside Vesnina with a 6-2 6-2 doubles triumph.
"It was tough, but it was an amazing couple of days for us and we are so happy that we beat Japan, it was very difficult for us," said Vesnina.
"Ekaterina was a real hero for us as she helped us win a couple of crucial points."
Daniela Hantuchova was the stand-out performer as Slovakia beat Serbia 3-2.
World number 58 Hantuchova won both her singles rubbers, including a 6-3 6-2 win over Vesna Dolonc today to build on Jana Cepelova's epic 5-7 7-5 11-9 defeat of Bojana Jovanovski.